Alam Zeb Safi – The News
KARACHI: National Bank of Pakistan’s (NBP) miserable run in the Pakistan Premier Football League continued as they lost 2-0 to Muslim FC at the Faisal Town Ground in Lahore on Thursday.
Following incisive rallies, Hikmatullah put Chaman’s Muslim FC ahead with a nice drive at the stroke of half time. Soon after the breather, Mohammad Tahir doubled their lead in the 54th minute and took the game away from the bankers.
NBP coach Nasir Ismail was disappointed by the defeat. “It was totally a zero performance from my team,” dejected Nasir told ‘The News’ after their second successive and overall sixth loss in the season. “Our team did not show any aggression, commitment and no tactical awareness was seen. I don’t know why they are playing so poorly; I had motivated them a lot,” Nasir, a former Pakistan assistant coach, said.
“We were unfortunate to concede the first goal in a bizarre way. Keeper Mohammad Umar slipped while moving back to collect a pile-driver. And then a big tactical mistake from Misbah and Aadil caused the second goal,” Nasir said.
“We might face a problem this season as well. Our strikers play causal football. We got three to four chances but failed to convert them. This put pressure on the midfield and defence, causing them to make mistakes,” Nasir said. He said he would now have to rely on youngsters. “I will now give full chance to the young lot because we have no option now,” he said. The loss left NBP struggling with eight points from ten meetings.
Muslim FC coach Khalid Nawaz was happy with his frontline. “Today we converted chances and it’s a good sign,” Khalid told this correspondent. “NBP gave a good fight but they did not click upfront. It’s a good win for us and has boosted our morale,” said Khalid, who last year coached Nushki’s Baloch FC.
The victory moved Muslim FC to 14 points from 11 appearances.
Holders Khan Research Laboratories (KRL) bounced back when they edged leaders Army 1-0 thanks to a nice goal from Murtaza.
Murtaza snatched the ball from KRL’s defender before nestling it in in the 13th minute.
KRL assistant coach Sajjad Mehmood said it was a tough game. “Overall we played well but it was a good match as Army also offered tough resistance,” Sajjad said. “We struck through Murtaza in the beginning and then we worked hard to maintain it. We got a couple of more chances but could not convert them,” Sajjad said. KRL joined Muslim FC at the fourth place with 14 points from eight matches. KRL have an edge over Muslim FC in goal-average and the number of matches played.
Army’s coach Major Shafqat said it was a fast game. “We were unlucky not to convert the chance that we got while KRL converted theirs,” he said.
However, he was hopeful that this time they would win. “I am hopeful that we will control the situation this time,” Shafqat hoped.
Army remain at the summit, with 19 points from ten outings.
Today’s fixture: KPT v Baloch FC (Faisal Town Football Ground, Lahore).